The stone is a rare alabaster that is translucent and polishes to, what one might call a kind of softness. The Menke has an odd shape for a whale, having a somewhat longish and thin tail section. Italian ice also lent itself to this feature, since it is relatively hard and is strong even when carved as thin as the Menke’s tail requires. Also, note that the Menke is a Baleen whale, that is, it has baleen plates rather than teeth for capturing food. Baleen whales have an accordion-like throat that when expanded and contracted, sucks small sea creatures into this labyrinth of plates hanging from the roof of its mouth. Note these plates in the mouth of one of the whales in the piece.
The base is also special to me, since it is a half-slice of California Redwood that I purchased from a wood collecting friend. Note the tree’s age by counting growth rings. The piece took more than 100 hours of painstaking work, each minute of carving letting me relive that magic moment on Notre Dame Bay.